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Top 10 French festivals you don’t want to miss

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Several festivals in France allow visitors to experience the colorful culture of the nation. These festivals cover a wide range of topics, from history to fantasy and everything in between.


Going to festivals in France, whether you make France your permanent home or are simply there on vacation, is a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of France. Throughout the year, there are several amazing French festivals to pick from, which is a fortunate development. These events commemorate a wide variety of topics, ranging from kites and lemons to operas and dragons. Make sure to include these monumental events on your calendar if you are in search of a stimulating cultural fix.


1. Berck-sur-Mer Kite Festival


At the International Kite Festival in Berck-sur-Mer, there is a possibility that enormous pigs may take to the skies. Over more than two decades, more than half a million people have visited the beach community of Berck-sur-Mer to see the amazing display of kites flying over the village. At the event, which takes place once a year in either March or April, enormous versions of dragons, whales, octopuses, and other figures from cartoons fly through the air over the sandy beach. In addition, the event serves as the venue for the International Kite Championships of the World held once every two years. At this time, sailors from all around the globe compete against the wind and one another, as well as against themselves.


To gain a great vantage point of the show from atop the dunes, there is plenty of space available. In addition, there is a multitude of activities and forms of entertainment available, which will keep children of all ages, please. They may take classes on how to manufacture and fly kites, or they can browse the various booths to get their very own kite to take home with them. You must remain there for the closing night of the festival. At this point, a nighttime air display and fireworks spectacular will bring the grand celebration to a successful conclusion.


2. Menton Lemon Festival


In the city of Menton, the celebration known as the Fête du Citron (also known as the Lemon Festival) takes place over two weeks in February. More than 200,000 people attend the festival each year to see the vibrant floats and sculptures that are made from citrus fruits like lemons and oranges. Throughout the day, people are entertained by acrobats, drummers, wind players, and other performers as they watch parades of fruit-covered floats make their way through the streets. When night falls, the picture-perfect Biovès Gardens are filled with quirky figures and models constructed from a citrus fruit that stands 10 meters tall.


The displays, which are produced from 145 tonnes of citrus, are created by a group of specialists including more than 300 individuals. Menton is known for its yearly output of specialized lemons and other citrus fruits, and this festival pays homage to that bounty. At the Crafts Fair, you will discover a variety of jams, soaps, and fragrances for sale; of course, all of these products were manufactured locally using citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges. Either indulge in a refreshing drink of freshly squeezed lemonade or go so far as to get your very own lemon tree. During this lively occasion, the surrounding air smells fantastic.


3. Cannes Film Festival


Cinephiles will undoubtedly be interested in attending the Cannes Film Festival, which is often considered to be the most prestigious in the world. A French Minister of Education and the Arts is the one who conceived the idea for the red-carpet event. He had the ambitious goal of creating in France an international cultural event that would compete with the Venice Film Festival. It is reasonable to conclude that he was successful. The yearly event is attended by about 31,000 working people from countries all over the globe.


This includes a large number of performers and filmmakers who go here to present their most recent works. They also have high hopes of being considered for the renowned Palme d'Or prize, popularly known as the Golden Palm. A festival is a professional event, but it also serves as a venue for social gatherings. Even while the vast majority of screenings need an invitation to attend, there are still plenty of chances to see your favorite A-list celebs. Classic films from the Cannes Film Festival are shown on the beach at the enormous Cinéma de la Plage, which is an open-air theatre. Tickets are available for purchase at the Cannes Tourist office.


4. Nice Carnival


The legendary Nice Carnival takes place in February and is considered to be one of the greatest carnivals in the world. Other notable carnivals include those held in Brazil, Venice, and the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans. Additionally, it is the most significant event that takes place on the French Riviera. Over one million people from different parts of the world may be seen strolling the streets of Nice at any given time of day or night. They come to be amazed by the extravagant floats, bright costumes, and breathtaking parades, all while taking in the pulsating atmosphere of the Carnival. At this wonderful carnival, there are more than one thousand dancers and musicians from different countries performing.


Each year, a distinct topic is selected, and artists then make several papier-maché floats and various figures to bring that topic to life in the vibrant parade. As soon as it becomes dark, the floats that will be participating in the magical Parade of Lights have their lights turned on. In addition, each year there is a lively Flower Parade that takes place. At this point, actors decked up in elaborate costumes will shower the audience along the Promenade des Anglais with one hundred thousand roses. Amidst all of the excitement, clouds of confetti and silly string can be seen floating in the air.


5. Festival Medieval de Sedan


Attending the Sedan Medieval Festival in May will provide you with an experience that will live long in your memory. The event recreates the atmosphere of the Middle Ages by taking place in the Chateau de Sedan, which is the biggest mediaeval castle in all of Europe. The grounds of the castle play host to a variety of exciting events, including jousting competitions, feasts, and parades that are steeped in atmosphere. The castle is visited by around 15,000 people every day. There is surely a lot to get one's creative juices flowing over the seven stories and 35 square meters that make up this space. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of steps to climb!


In the meanwhile, visitors can enjoy a broad range of entertainment both on the grounds of the castle and in the city streets. This features a magnificent parade of knights, nail-biting sword bouts and wrestling contests, falconry displays, and competitions for hurling flags. In addition, visitors have the opportunity to peruse the hundreds of booths that are located inside the expansive mediaeval market and purchase a wide variety of hand-made mementos. A dragon-sleighing show complete with genuine fire-breathing is one of the highlights of the event. Other highlights include a march under torchlight over the grounds of the castle. Because there is such a wide variety of things to do here, it is undeniably one of the festivals in France that is most well-liked by families.


6. Bastille Day


Bastille Day is the most significant celebration in the French calendar, and it is celebrated throughout the country on July 14th. This event celebrates the day when Parisian commoners and peasants seized the Bastille fortress and jail, which is now known as Bastille Day. This set in motion the circumstances that would lead to the downfall of the monarchy and the beginning of an era characterized by liberty, fraternity, and equality. The whole country of France is turning out for the festivities, which include both large-scale public events and private gatherings.


Nevertheless, Paris is the most desirable location at this time. Celebrations get underway in this area on the evening of July 13, when several fire stations host festivities that last throughout the night. On the actual day of Bastille Day, the city hosts a massive procession as well as several free concerts throughout it. As soon as it becomes dark out, the sky above the Eiffel Tower will be lit up by some of the most spectacular fireworks you have ever seen. Arriving early at the Trocadéro gardens, the Parc de Belleville, or the Champ de Mars will provide you with the greatest view of the show as well as the nicest ambiance. Both the Sacré-Coeur and the Montparnasse Tower provide unparalleled views of the city below.


7. La Fête de la Musique


On June 21, the day of the summer solstice, celebrations may be found all around France with live music. This is the time when "La Fête de la Musique," also known as "Music Day," takes place, honoring the variety and breadth of musical practices across all of their respective subgenres. The very first musical celebration that lasted throughout the whole day took place in Paris in 1982. Since then, however, it has spread to 120 nations all over the globe. During the festival, hundreds of artists congregate in the city's streets, taverns, and cafes to provide free performances to the general audience. They perform a wide variety of music, ranging from jazz and rock to hip hop and electronic music.


In the meanwhile, residents are permitted to play music outdoors in their communities, as well as in public places and parks, and are even encouraged to do so. The purpose of the festival is to acquaint people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds with a wide variety of musical expressions and to make music more accessible to the general public. Those who can sing or play an instrument should feel especially encouraged to participate. Therefore, if you happen to have a guitar or a saxophone laying around, you are more than welcome to bring them with you.


8. Festival d'Avignon


The Festival d'Avignon is another great event held in France that you should not miss. The courtyard of the Palais des Papes in Avignon is the location of the annual theatrical festival that takes place in July. During this period, Avignon converts its architectural legacy into a variety of magnificent entertainment spaces. Tens of thousands of people of all ages who like the theatre, dance, visual arts, and live music gather here to take part in these activities. In addition, the town serves as an open-air platform where attendees may speak about the acts they saw and share their experiences.


Avignon is the place to go for artists and fans alike since every evening there is at least one product that is being premiered there. A variety of events are put on in Avignon at the same time as the official festival, which is referred to as the "In" one. These shows are collectively referred to as the "Off." These are put on by a not-for-profit organization that is mostly made up of several theatre groups. The performances are held in a variety of locations, including theatres, schools, public streets, and other appropriate settings. Anyone who has a passion for theatre should attend this festival in France.


9. Chorégies d'Orange


The Chorégies d'Orange is the longest-running festival in France, having begun in 1869. If you are a fan of opera or classical music, this is the event for you to attend. The event is held at Orange's Roman Theatre, which has been meticulously maintained throughout the years. The wonderful, time-honored ambiance of the antique theatre draws in almost 9,000 visitors every day. They are also able to make use of the theater's historic stone stage wall, which is responsible for producing superb natural acoustics in the space.


The Roman theatre, famous for its semi-circular tiered stone seating, is without a doubt one of the most spectacular locations in the world in which to see opera performed outside. Each year, the festival presents a program that includes both well-known and less well-known works featuring renowned opera singers from all over the world. Throughout its history, the Orange festivals have welcomed performances by every significant figure on the classical music scene in France. But even if you are not a major lover of opera, you should not miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


10. Festival of Lights, Lyon


The celebration of the Virgin Mary known as the Festival of Lights takes place throughout the city of Lyon over four days in December. A stunning and enchanted environment is produced by the thousands of candles that can be seen glowing in windows and on balconies around the building. In the meanwhile, the structures of the city and its bridges are illuminated with lights of varying colors. Lyon is also illuminated by several other light projects that have been built by artists from all over the globe.


During the four days, there will also often be other events centered on a light. The lighting up of the Basilica of Fourvière in a variety of hues is, however, the event that draws the most attention during the festival. Another experience that should not be missed is the nighttime light display that is put on in the Place des Terreaux. It is estimated that up to four million people will attend the event's four days, so if you do want to go, make sure you are ready for the masses.


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